Connecting culture and migration at the Hunt Museum

  • Migration Stories at the Hunt Museum

The Hunt Museum is hosting Europeana Migration Collection Days, a weekend collecting personal objects and stories on migration and celebrating its contribution to our cultural heritage.

Migration has often been the basis of culture and cultural heritage. It has enriched our lives and brought new ideas, food, music, art and thought to our towns and cities. Limerick is no exception, from the Danes in 812, the Vikings in the early 10th century with the Norse King of Limerick, Ivar, the Normans from the late 12th century, the French in the 17th century, Lithuanian Jews in the 19th century, to the recent record of over 16 different new nationalities: Pakistani, Polish, Romanian, Syrian, Sudanese et al. Emigration and return is a very large part of Irish history and its diaspora.

Both the non-Irish and Irish populations of the Limerick region often have histories of migration and emigration with their own stories and objects. It is these stories of personal family migration and the objects that symbolise them that the Hunt Museum would like people to bring in. We will digitise them on the spot and add to Europeana Migration to demonstrate how Europe is made up of many different cultures. It can be any sort of object: letters, postcards, photographs, tickets, diaries, artworks, items of clothing, recipes, books, mementos, footage, badges, or songs.

Adrian Murphy, Europeana Collections Manager tells why Europeana is making this large Europe wide Collection: “The personal migration stories link to the importance of a European Union that exists to promote peace and borders that are not barriers in this the European Year of Cultural Heritage. Many of us are not consciously aware that we are the product of many cultural influences.”

Jill Cousins, Director and CEO of the Hunt Museum said “We want to connect the personal stories with the richness of our cultural heritage epitomised by many of the objects we hold in the museum. As well as the Collection Days we have invited schools to come and reinterpret some of our “migrated” objects such as the Syrian Raqqa Bowl, the Egyptian Baboon, the Greek Dodecahedron or the Italian Maiolica Jars. All aiming to show how migration really benefits our cultural heritage.”

The event coincides with the centenaries of several countries in Europe, who have representative populations in Limerick and is part of the European Year of Cultural Heritage. It is supported by funding from the Communicating Europe Initiative and the UL Centre for European Studies as well as grant from the Ireland Funds.

Mihai Bilauca, who has coordinated a commemoration and week long Exhibition of Culture and Tradition in the Hunt Museum for the Romanian Great Union Centenary, commented: “We all bring something with us from our countries and we are very happy to be contributing to the Europeana Migration Collection Days but we are also looking forward to our Country’s Great Union Centenary and giving Limerick some tastes, sounds, scent and sights of Romania in our mini-exhibition and event on Friday 30th.”

On Sunday 2nd the Limerick Polish Community will be adding their objects and stories together with some music, dancing, food and drink. Both these events are free to all.

On the three Collection Days people are encouraged to bring along one or more objects that are part of their own or their family’s migration story.

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Treaty Stone Limerick. Photo Piotr Machowczyk